In reading through my past blogs, I feel like I give the impression that before my emotional and mental growth period while recovering from a brain injury, that I was a complete neanderthal, totally unaware and oblivious.
While this is partially true, it’s not entirely.
I wanted and was trying to grow, but was still planted firmly in fear, limitations, and “can’t.” I had good intentions.
Doesn’t that count for something?
Looing back on my predicament, it was like I had one foot in a boat and one foot on dry land. As stress and the painful events of my life piled up the distance between the boat and the land got further and further apart. While I’m amazingly limber and did a split straddling the gap for as long as I could, I fell into the water with a big splash when I tried to commit suicide.
In retrospect, I now know that I was in a transition phase emotionally and physically. Emotionally, I was trying to evolve and be more mature, less dramatic and reactive. Goodness knows I’d read enough self-help books and understood what was necessary intellectually.
Physically, through neuroplasticity, I believe that my brain was in the process of rewiring itself to make me a calmer, wiser, more aware person. However, neuroplastic change takes consistent practice and time – not nearly quick enough for me. When extreme anxiety hit, the well-worn pathways of my old habits were the go-to defaults.
I wrote the snarky observations below before my suicide attempt and growth phase. Some reflect my limiting thinking patterns at that time. Some hint at brief moments of insight in which I was able to glimpse the wisdom and humor in all the crap swirling around me in my life.
When I read these thoughts now, I can see how stuck in my story I was and am very grateful to be where I am now instead. My friend says, “If you like where you are, you can’t complain about how you got there.” Many of the same hurdles mentioned below are still in my life today, plus a few new ones because of my brain injury, but I’m a very different person. Thank goodness!
I’ve learned to practice mindfulness, look for the good, focus on the possibilities, and see opportunities in obstacles. When a challenging situation arises now, I take a broader perspective as if looking through a wide angle lens without labeling it good or bad. My experience of anything is made up of my thoughts and actions. With these, I make a situation good or bad as I move through it.
Nothing seems so large or insurmountable anymore, and I can always figure out an alternate route to get to where I need to go with patience and faith.
Road blocked? No biggie. I’ll just go another way, but I will get there.
- I have learned that taking well-timed naps is a viable, self-defense mechanism. When you’re asleep you don’t have to think, feel, worry or even exist on any level.
- I have learned that little boys don’t value sleep quite the same way, and, if you zonk out on the couch one Friday night, they may stay up until 4AM playing video games simply because they can.
- I have learned that you shouldn’t attend a wedding too soon after you get divorced or you’ll end up crying until snot comes out of your nose, and it will have nothing to do with the blessed union you are witnessing before you.
- I have learned that you can be married to someone for 18 years and look at them sitting across from you in a fancy lawyer’s office and realize that they are just as much a stranger to you as the girl who led you to the room and gave you a bottle of water because your mouth was dry.
- I have learned that dogs make good cuddlers, but sloppy kissers, and they leave little hairs all over your sheets.
- I have learned that a dog may leave little hairs on your sheets, but he is very forgiving about your toxic morning breath, bed head, and the big wrinkle imprint on the side of your face.
- I have learned that a cat rolling around on her back in a sunny spot on the driveway can always make you smile even when you thought you had nothing to smile about.
- I have learned that a 45-year-old man who has been married one time in his life for 13 months can accumulate quite an impressive collection of coffee cups and Tupperware from his multitude of old girlfriends and will add many of your prime specimens to his collection.
- I have learned that even though you might be mad at your dead brother for not intervening in your life according to your wishes, he can still let you know he’s very much around one night at the grocery store which leaves you sobbing uncontrollably in the middle of the canned goods on aisle five.
- I have learned that “good-byes” are just as much a part of life as “hellos” and that you better get used to both.
- I have learned that no one has the right to lie to you, treat you badly, and continuously hurt you, no matter how much you think you love them.
- I have learned that it’s much more important what you think about the person staring back at you in the mirror than what others think about them.
You can read more like this in my tell-all memoir Sex, Suicide and Serotonin.
image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/angrylambie/